Jan 19, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies

Picture of Janet Yellen
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on Wednesday sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen responding to the Biden administration's threat that it will take back and withhold the state's COVID-19 relief aid over anti-masking school policies.

Driving the news: "[W]e will not be intimidated by the heavy-hand of the Biden Administration forcing Arizona to comply with ambiguous and unrealistic national standards," Brnovich said.

Catch up fast: Earlier this week, Yellen warned Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) that the administration will take back the state's COVID-19 funding if it does not redesign programs that use the funding to discourage schools from mandating masks.

  • One of the programs provides $163 million in funding to schools that do not require face coverings. Another one offers up to $7,000 for parents if their kid's school mandates masks, per AP.
  • Between the lines: The CDC recommends universal indoor masking in all schools, regardless of vaccination status.

What he's saying: "Madam Secretary, the states created the federal government, not the other way around. Unfortunately, members of the Biden Administration have continuously ignored this fundamental principle of our great nation when proposing and enacting bureaucratic mandates and harmful regulations upon individual states," Brnovich wrote.

  • "It shouldn't surprise anyone that the U.S. Department of Treasury, under your leadership, is again trying to overstep its constitutional bounds and dictate to Arizona how our state should run and fund our schools."
  • Brnovich argued that under the Ninth and 10th Amendments of the Constitution, the state can set whatever educational policies it sees fit.

What we're watching: Brnovich called for Yellen to rescind her initial threat, adding that if she fails to do so, his office will "take appropriate action in the courtroom" against the administration.

  • The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the letter:

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